Tag Archives: logos

The 8 Agreements for Working With a Graphic Design Firm

computer with artistic sketches doodles. Design is... Steve Jobs quote.

There are a variety of reasons why a small business can benefit from working with a graphic design firm. Skilled graphic designers can help your company shine and organize information efficiently and in a graphically appealing manner. Once you have determined the project you are hiring the graphic design firm for the next step is to establish a clear understanding of who is responsible for each element of the project(s)

8 Agreements for Working with a Graphic Design Firm :

Explain Yourself – know what you are trying to communicate, to who (target audience), how (in print, billboards, or online, etc.). If you are not sure about the direction you need to take, you may want to schedule a marketing consultation or graphic design consultation before you begin working with a graphic design firm on a project that is defined ahead of time. Many graphic design firms offer consultations and provide marketing services to help you at this stage.

Be Prepared – Compile all text, copy, logos, photos, graphics, charts, etc. that will be included when the graphic design firm begins the project. If the graphic design firm is responsible for creating the graphics, locating photography, it is a good idea to share your ideas on style, color, size, etc.

Content – Will you be writing the copy for your project? Will a copy writer be providing copy? If you are working with a graphic design firm that also offers copywriting services request a bid for copywriting. Graphic design services do not automatically include copywriting, choosing headlines, compiling captions, etc.

Proofread – Graphic designers are paying attention to fonts, placement, scale, dimensions, color, graphics, photos and flow. Graphic designers are not editors or proofreaders. Sometimes while working through a project they may catch a typo or inconsistent use of text this is a bonus – this is an editing and proofreading task and is ultimately the client’s responsibility. Make sure you always get a proof and proofread it carefully before you go to print or post online… and then have someone else proofread it again.

Don’t Make Assumptions – You know your small business or organization best. It is important to share everything you want to include or depict. Don’t assume the graphic designer knows which are the featured services, products, mission and message you want to convey. A graphic design firm will learn about your company or organization but you know your organization best. Don’t assume it’s obvious what your company’s unique selling proposition (USP) is. Your current website and other marketing materials may not be explaining it as clearly you hope.

Share Ideas – Provide samples of designs you like. The examples can be from companies in your industry or just eye-catching designs with compelling messages that speak to you. This sharing helps designers follow your desired trajectory right away. A professional graphic designer will not copy these ideas, they will use them as inspiration, a jump off point, to build original work for your company.

When you are working with a design firm and leave it entirely up to them without any examples of what you envision you may have a rocky road ahead. If you are someone who is open to innovation and new ideas and you envision working with a graphic design firm as a refreshing exchange of creativity, give them full reign! It could be a great experience for both parties. If ideas go off track however, you will be paying for the revisions to get them back on track.

Don’t take things personally – a professional graphic designer will present new ideas you may not have considered yet. Be open to hear about the concept. Remember you hired the professionals for their expertise. If you really don’t like the new ideas a professional graphic design firm will not force them. Hopefully a compromise can be offered that merges both ideas and a winning design will result. Remember you are working with a design firm who wants to keep you as a customer, they want you to succeed and sometimes that means attempting to break you out of your comfort zone.

Always Do Your Best – Plan ahead for your graphic design and marketing projects. Whether you are looking for a brochure design, annual report design, logo design or website design, etc. allot enough time for all the project stages and mostly for design time. A full campaign will require more time than a corporate brochure. Creativity can not be turned on and off like a computer. A minimum of two weeks is requested. Although most design firms will do their best to fit in rush jobs, keep in mind you may not be getting their best work when creative time is cut short. Also remember to include the time it will take for the next steps of your projects, committee previews,board approval, printing, distribution, coding, etc.

Connection Group is a marketing and graphic design firm located in the Lansing, Michigan area. We work face to face on graphic design projects for small businesses and organizations in Grand Ledge, Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor, Detroit, Kalamazoo, Mason, DeWitt and Charlotte, Michigan. When working with companies throughout Michigan we like the initial meeting to be at your location to get a feel for your business environment.  Connection Group also provides marketing and graphic design services to companies throughout the United States. Consultations via Skype, phone and email offer opportunities to collaborate, share proofs and meet comfortably without additional travel expenses.

If you feel confident working with a graphic design firm is your next step, connect with us today.

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STOP STEALING FROM GOOGLE!

copyright symbol graphic with colorful graphicEver wonder what your name means? How will you find out? Look it up in the tome, the Dictionary of Names from Oxford University Press? No, you will do what I did and Google it. Go ahead, do a search, see what you come up with.

In searching ‘what does my name Connie mean’, Google graciously returned 8,280,000 results. Granted I did not go to every website citing the information. I went to four. All had different results. One spoke of the history of the name and how it is derived from Constance (I thank my parents for being kinder than that). Another provided a pretty little graph showing the popularity of the name (seems Connie peaked in the fifties) my third attempt landed me on a page filled with ads and a three word descriptive answer to my inquiry; ‘Connie means knowledge’. I really think I am much more complex and warrant more than one descriptive word! So, I took a chance at one more, which I believe is profoundly more accurate. This website states the meaning of Connie means “Queen of the House – a determined but also an awesome person who can always make you feel good and is a boy magnet.” Absolutely! This is what I am going to tell everyone my name means! So what that the website designers Mom was named Connie and people can enter their own interpretation of the name. I choose to believe.

To all writers, professional assistants, marketers, students, authors, please don’t limit your research to a Google search!

Don’t go to results page 72, click the link you think nobody will ever find and plagerize the content for your next newsletter, term paper, or website. That is stealing AND it could be completely inaccurate information! After reviewing multiple sites and finding similar facts you can then compose an original article or paper. If you are using proprietary information, quotes, statistical research, remember to cite your source and respect those who came before you and did the work.

The internet is getting smaller every day. Once I post this blog entry I can randomly select a sentence from it and do a search. Every website who has used my sentence will be returned in my Google search.

This also goes for Google Images – ugh, don’t get me started! When you search Google Images please note the disclaimer that states “image may be subject to copyright” that does apply to you too. What’s the best solution? Find the original owner and pay them for use, or hire a professional graphic designer or photographer to create an original solution. Appreciate the wonderful web of knowledge we have access to and share your wisdom, don’t steal others and think you will get away with it.

What are the consequences of Copyright Infringement?

If you use a copyrighted work without permission and your usage is not exempt under the law, you are infringing on copyright. If the copyright holder discovers it, they can then sue you for actual damage or loss of profits. The holder/owner may also choose to seek statutory damages up to $150,000 for each infringement. So if you have stolen a logo and used it on your business cards, letterhead, brochure, signage and website, etc. the copyright holder can sue you for statutory damage for each, or $750,000. Here is a list of damages and profits of copyright infringement.

If you use a copyrighted work without permission and your usage is not exempt under copyright law, you are infringing upon the copyright holder’s rights. The copyright holder can sue you for actual damages or loss of profits. The copyright holder may also seek statutory damages up to $150,000 per infringement. See Section 504 for additional detail.

Copyright law is not limited to just United States Citizens. In an effort to address international use concerns as the world wide web expanded.  The Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 signed by President Clinton addressed this issue by implementing two 1996 World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) treaties: the WIPO Copyright Treaty and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty.

Depending on if you are citing an entire website or citing a specific article or page within a website following are the MLA (Modern Language Association) Style standards to follow for proper citations:

· If you can’t find all of the information, cite what you can find in the recommended order for each.
· In these examples we have provided them as single spaced; you should double space citations in your list.
· For more information on MLA citation styles, refer to the handbook and the website.

To cite an entire website that you have referenced in your work :

Title of Database. Date of electronic
publication or latest update. Name of
sponsoring institution or
organization. Date the information
is retrieved <URL

Example:  Connection Group Web and Design Tips. July, 2011. Connection Group. August, 2011, www.connectiongraphics.com

To cite a webpage, cite a blog or cite an online journal article use the following format:

Author. “Article Title.” Journal Title
vol.issue (Year): pages.
Date retrieved information
<URL>.

Example: Sweet, Connie. 10 Baby Steps for Small Business to  Grow in Social Media.
Web and Design Tips, 17 (2012) 1. Retrieved August 25, 2011, from
http://www.connectiongraphics.com/tips/

Be original! We are ALL connected.

Let Your Image Speak for You

Pung Foundation logo created for mid-Michigan based concrete construction and renovation service company.

Phones have been ringing, emails are flowing in, social media posts are crammed with new business start ups ready to make a difference. New entrepreneurs are emerging with products and services that can change the world – or at least their communities and bank books. Ahhh, the passion of entrepreneurs!

I love when new start ups come to Connection Group for a graphic design or marketing consultation. I know when they start here they are serious about their approach and their image. I get to see their eyes light up, hear their story, and feel their drive. New business start ups come to us with a lot of questions, hope and dreams and often very limited budgets. It is our job to understand their goals, their philosophy, their market, their budget, service or product, and provide guidance to them that will assist their business launch without breaking the bank.

McNaughton and Gunn logo

McNaughton and Gunn is a 50+ year old book printer headquartered in Michigan

One of the first recommendations I make to business owners is to start with a professional logo. So many software programs and websites out there have stock art that people can place on a business card, throw a phone number and website next to and convince themselves they are the next Apple or HP. Online printers spout 250 free business cards, free icons, free templates. What cash crunched start up can resist’, FREE graphic design, FREE business cards?

We have all been to a networking event where we come back to the office and have two or more identical design business cards or two cards with the same logo or clip art. image. The designs and logos are the same the only difference is the names on them – one is a massage therapist, one is a florist, and another is a dog groomer. One was a contractor who specialized in tile installation, the other does windows. Now which one was the it that I wanted to refer to my mother? None of them. Why? Because they are not unique, they do not stand out from the crowd and chances are that is the way they will run their business. These owners did not take their business or craft seriously enough to invest in their image  – they decided their business was only worth a free set of business cards.

Women In Successful Enterprises logo

Logo created for WISE, a Michigan based organization comprised of second stage women owned businesses.

So when I have a start up company call or email and say they understand the importance of presenting themselves professionally but don’t know where to start, my question is not, ‘What is your budget?’, my question is, “When can we set up a time to meet?” I love an entrepreneur, I am one, I know small businesses make a difference in their communities and can change the world. I want to help the good ones to succeed.

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